The largest in post-Soviet history exercises of the Russian Navy started in the Black and Mediterranean seas. They involve warships of the Black Sea, the Baltic and Northern Fleets as well as other types of armed forces – the Army and the Air Force, including long-range aviation.
The highest status of the exercises is confirmed by the fact that, for the first time, the overall management responsibility was given to the Chief of General Staff, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov. The General Staff became a real body of operational control over troops and fleets for the first time. This was confirmed by the recent presidential amendments to the law “On Defense”, which is now being prepared for discussion in the State Duma in the second reading.
Maritime policy has such a phenomenon as demonstration of the flag. That is, a country that claims to be a maritime power has to send its ships to different parts of the oceans to remind of itself. It turns out that during the current exercises in a relatively limited area of the ocean three Russian fleets displayed their flags at once. Even the U.S. has not yet gathered, for example, pennants of several of its different fleets or even different operational and tactical organizations in the Mediterranean Sea.
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The largest in the last decade Marine combat training involves warships from the Black Sea, the Baltic and Northern Fleets: guided-missile cruiser “Moskva”, a large anti-submarine ship “Severomorsk,” escorts “Smetliviy”, “Yaroslav the Wise”, large amphibious ships “Saratov,” “Azov”, “Kaliningrad”, and “Alexander Shabalin,” special ships and support vessels, long-range aviation and the 4th Air Force and Air Defense Command.
The operational headquarters are located in the guided-missile cruiser “Moskva” of the Black Sea Fleet, positioned in a designated area of the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the press service of the Defense Ministry, the main task of the exercise is to assess the readiness of the military administration and inter-fleet group of forces to carry out tasks in the far sea zone. During the exercises that will last until January 29, 2013, Russian sailors in the Black and Mediterranean Seas will complete over 60 different military exercises, including missile and artillery fire.
Meanwhile, a number of Russian and foreign media noted that the large-scale naval exercises that the Russian Navy has not conducted for a long time, have a number of features associated with the situation at the borders of Russia and its allies, as well as the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.
Media reported that the ships participating in the exercise would mainly be located off the coast of Syria and allegedly would provide military support to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, including an amphibious landing in the area. This, of course, is hard to believe. Russia would not conduct these large-scale exercises to get involved in a conflict. Although, in Syria Russia has very real strategic, rather than tactical, interests.
In Tartus, the second largest city of Syria, houses the only functioning Russian base outside of the former Soviet Union.
Judging by the statements of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the training landing in Tartus for a naval assault, or any other combat-actions associated with this base, are impossible by definition. Moscow intends to participate in the solution of the Syrian issue peacefully.
The military base was established in 1971. It was created to support the actions of the fleet in the Mediterranean Sea – ship repair, food and fuel supplies. The logistics base consists of floating docks, floating storages, warehouses, barracks and various household facilities. The object is kept by several hundred Russian sailors. The base rental brings Syria a great deal of money.
Russian naval exercises bring tangible benefits to some Western European ports as well. For example, newspaper El Faro reported that a visit of the Northern Fleet of Russia with a large anti-submarine ship “Severomorsk”, rescue tug “Altai” and tanker “Dubna” into the Spanish port of Ceuta had a positive impact on the economy of the city. The newspaper wrote that Russian sailors spent about 200,000 euros in the city in three days.
The main purchase of the squadron of the Russian Navy in Ceuta was 750 tons of fuel from a local company, El Faro reported. In addition, the Russian ships were sold 204 tons of drinking and fresh water. The rest of the money was spent on personal shopping by the sailors.
While the exercises of three Russian fleets in the Black and Mediterranean Seas is a demonstration of flags, so to speak, on a regional scale, the information on the construction of a new nuclear fleet is a demonstration of force at a global scale.
In Severodvinsk at the “Sevmash” factory nuclear submarine “Vladimir Monomakh” was launched, the third submarine of project 955 “Borey”.
According to a press release issued by the factory, the launch from the floating dock marked the beginning of the cruiser tests. Soon “Sevmash” experts will test seaworthiness and performance of the nuclear submarine. Test runs of “Vladimir Monomakh” at sea are scheduled for the summer.
The first nuclear-powered Project 955 – “Yury Dolgorukiy” – was put into service by the Russian Navy on January 10, 2013. Simultaneously, the fleet put into service the primary weapon of submarines of this project – intercontinental ballistic sea-based missile P-30 “Bulava”. In total, by 2020 the Navy plans to get eight submarines under the “Borey” project. They will replace obsolete submarine of 667BDRM project “Dolphin”.
The second submarine of project 955 “Borey” – “Alexander Nevsky” – is to be put into service by the end of 2013. Construction of another submarine of the project – “Prince Vladimir” – was commenced in Severodvinsk in July of 2012. In early January of 2013 information was released that the fifth “Borey” will be called in honor of Alexander Suvorov, and the sixth – in honor of Mikhail Kutuzov. Such large-scale construction of nuclear submarines in Russia is also observed for the first time in decades.